Social media apps are becoming increasingly popular among Bangkok teenagers to buy drugs, according to an expat father who learned about the illegal trade after discovering a large stash of marijuana in his daughter’s bedroom.
“It’s all too easy,” said the father, whose daughter attends an international school. “Kids simply place an order via an encrypted messaging app like Snapchat or Instagram, transfer the money via an ATM machine in cash, and then the drugs are delivered by a motorcycle taxi.”
Drug users are said to value the convenience and speed of the transaction, while ignoring the quality of the drugs. They also have a false sense of security, believing they are ahead of the law because of the anonymity of the deals. It’s no longer a question of waiting to be approached in the street or hoping to come across a dealer in clubs.
Some dealers upload images and videos of substances in order to reassure their buyers who then feel safe consuming them. Drugs more dangerous than marijuana are sometimes offered.
He says educating young people about the risks is vital. “It’s impossible to know where teenagers are at all times and who they are mixing with, so it’s a huge problem.”
Teenagers often learn about the trade from others users while hanging out after school in upmarket shopping malls and other venues, explained the father.
Snapchat and Instagram are reported as saying they take misuse of their platforms extremely seriously and are working closely with law enforcement agencies to detect and remove illegal material.